It is heartening that Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik has decided to withdraw the advisory which directed the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims and tourists to leave the Kashmir valley two months ago due to fear of violence in the wake of the withdrawal of special status of the State under Article 370. This is a test of the administration’s hold and will be closely watched for any signs of renewal of violence. There is indeed no denying that people at large were put to hardships due to the disturbed conditions and that they would now look forward to peace and to return of normal activity. Whether the disruptive elements in Kashmir and in neighbouring Pakistan would countenance return to public order because they have a stake in keeping the pot boiling remains to be seen. The army and the paramilitary forces are today much better equipped to deal with recalcitrants but while the State must assert itself, much care would be required to see that the common, innocent people are not subjected to any excesses.
The concentration of the exercise in the valley today must shift to restoring to the people an atmosphere free from coercion. The means of livelihood which were severely compromised must be restored to their earlier status. The Central government must work hand in hand with the local administration to spur investment in the valley and to create new avenues for jobs. Maladministration must be replaced by efficient and corruption-free administration with funds from central schemes reaching the deserving quarters. At the same time, the strong arm of the law must come into action to ensure that illegal and anti-national activities are curbed and crime is effectively handled. There cannot be any compromise with terror and with anti-national forces. The challenges for Kashmir are many but the country can ill afford to slip up.